They say that often, pictures speak louder than words. And in this case, they were right.
We were lucky to have witnessed the northern lights – or aurora borealis – in Tromsø three nights in a row (and later, in Finnish Lapland). We’d previously spoken with a number of Norwegians residing in different parts of Norway, as well as fellow travellers who’ve come far and wide who’ve never spotted ‘The Green Lady’.
The night we arrived in Tromsø (2nd January 2016), we decided to book a last minute boat ride with Arctic Explorers.
Now before I babble on, let me just tell you: For weeks, I had been obsessed monitoring the geomagnetic activity and sky cameras in Norway, Finland, Alaska and Canada. Kp levels, solar wind activity, solar activity…and I mean obsessed! With a Kp 5 reading that evening, I knew there was a high probable chance of seeing the northern lights – or at least I had my fingers crossed! (Travel tip: I’ve included some handy links below, should you decide to hunt for the ‘Dancing Queen’ yourself).
Anyway as I was saying, we booked a last minute boat ride. Within half an hour, there she was. A faint band across the sky at first then she got brighter and more flirtatious over the next three hours (Travel tip: Not a good idea to be photographing the northern lights aboard a moving vessel – see below. You will need to use a camera tripod and have a good camera).
Because seeing the northern lights in Norway was at the top of my travel bucketlist, I pretty much bawled my eyes out about finally ticking this off. We met an elderly English man (Brian) travelling solo, and he too felt quite emotional. It was one of those experiences where you just had to be there – stare up at the sky and savour every moment, every flare, every dance.
The following night, we made another last minute decision to jump on another aurora hunt with a photography tour team – Marianne and George of Marianne’s Heaven On Earth Aurora Chase Tours. We were also lucky enough to meet an English couple (Simon and Emma) who knew quite a bit about cameras and were able to help us with some basic settings (Travel tip: Learn your camera before travelling, especially if you’ve just purchased a new one). Marianne and George’s passion for auroras were evident through their enthusiasm, especially George who had a tendency to jump up and down whenever the aurora put on a fantastic show!
The third night, we went with Green Fox Guiding. I found this listing on the Aurora Service EU website and made a booking over Christmas. We got lucky with this group as there were only eight of us. Jacek, a Polish aurora enthusiast, is the founder of Green Fox Guiding, who also happens to go on/operate the aurora hunts. Jacek is perhaps one of the most entertaining guides I’ve ever come across. And if you’re lucky, he just might perform a little stand-up comedy act!
At the risk of making this blog post too long, I will be posting a second part to this in a few days which will focus on tips when hunting for the northern lights and our four day itinerary in Tromsø.
Aurora Service EU – check out the minute-by-minute sky camera updates
Geophysical Institute of Alaska – accurate Kp level readings
Featured Image: Jacek of Green Fox Guiding taking a snap of me and The Green Lady